LA Times Crossword 25 Nov 21, Thursday

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Constructed by: David P. Williams
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Reveal Answer: Breakdances

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Themed answers come in pairs. The end of one element of the pair, and the beginning of the other, form a DANCE when combined, when “UNBROKEN”:

  • 60A Acrobatic street moves … or a hint to parts of the answers to starred clues : BREAKDANCES
  • 17A *Country in much 2021 news : AFGHANISTAN
  • 22A *World’s sixth-largest desert : GOBI (break “TAN-GO”)
  • 23A *Key to more issues : RENEWAL
  • 29A *Greek yogurt sauce : TZATZIKI (break “WAL-TZ”)
  • 47A *Swindle : FLIMFLAM
  • 53A *Bands may leave the stage on either side of them : ENCORES (break “FLAM-ENCO”)

Read on, or jump to …
… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 6m 45s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Name from the Arabic for “desert” : SAHARA

The name “Sahara” means “greatest desert” in Arabic. The Sahara is just that, a great desert covering almost 4 million square miles of Northern Africa. That’s almost the size of the United States.

7 Siamese warning : HISS

The exact origins of the Siamese cat aren’t very clear, but it is believed to be from Southeast Asia. The Siamese takes its name from the sacred temple cats of Thailand (a nation once called “Siam”).

11 Child support org. : PTA

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

14 Stir : PRISON

The slang word “stir”, meaning “prison”, probably has its roots in Start Newgate prison in London, where “Stir” was a nickname for the establishment.

17 *Country in much 2021 news : AFGHANISTAN

The War in Afghanistan began in 2001 with an invasion by the US and allies after the ruling Taliban refused to extradite Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden escaped Afghanistan, but was tracked down in Pakistan where he was killed by US forces in 2011. There was a resurgence of Taliban influence in Afghanistan starting in 2003, and the US eventually signed a conditional peace deal with the Taliban in 2020 calling for withdrawal of US forces by April 2021. US withdrawal was completed at the end of August 2021. The War in Afghanistan was the longest war in the history of the US (19 years, 10 months), surpassing even the Vietnam War (19 years, 5 months).

19 Argonne article : LES

The Forest of Argonne is a strip of rocky woodland in the northeast of France. The forest was the site of intense fighting between German and Allied forces during WWI.

21 King who banished Cordelia : LEAR

William Shakesepeare’s play “King Lear”, the title character disowns Cordelia, his youngest and most faithful daughter, using the words:

… for we
Have no such daughter, nor shall ever see
That face of hers again.

22 *World’s fifth-largest desert : GOBI

The Gobi, the large desert in Asia, lies in northern China and southern Mongolia. The Gobi desert is growing at an alarming rate, particularly towards the south. This “desertification” is caused by increased human activity. The Chinese government is trying to halt the desert’s progress by planting great swaths of new forest, the so-called “Green Wall of China”. The name “Gobi” is Mongolian for “waterless place, semidesert”.

29 *Greek yogurt sauce : TZATZIKI

Tzatziki is a sauce made from cucumbers mixed into yogurt with other flavorings. It is a sauce primarily associated with Greece, although variants are found in cuisines of other parts of Southeastern Europe and the Middle East.

31 It’s a liquid, paradoxically : GAS

The etymology of the term “gasoline”, meaning “fuel of automobiles”, is a little murky. The most common suggestion is that it comes from the trademark “Cazeline” used by English business entrepreneur John Cassell who marketed Patent Cazeline Oil in the early 1860s. Soon after, a Dublin shopkeeper sold a counterfeit version of “Cazeline” oil. When challenged by Cassell, the Irishman changed the name of his product to “Gazeline”. It’s thought that this “Gazeline” led to the introduction of the generic term “gasoline” in North America, starting in 1864.

36 Part of NATO: Abbr. : ORG

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an international military alliance that was established in 1949. NATO headquarters was initially set up in London, moved to Paris in 1952, and then to Brussels 1967.

37 Board sticker : DART

Darts is a game that’s often played in English and Irish pubs, even over here in America. The scoring in a traditional game of darts is difficult to describe in a sentence or two, but the game of darts called “Round the Clock” is simply hitting the numbers 1 through 20 on the dartboard in sequence.

46 Subject for Warhol : MAO

Andy Warhol made a famous series of portraits of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong in 1973. An exhibition of Warhol’s works toured China in 2012 but the images of Mao were excluded, apparently at the request of the Chinese government.

47 *Swindle : FLIMFLAM

A flimflam is a confidence trick. The term “flimflam” has been in use since the 1500s, would you believe?

50 Edmonton NHL team : OILERS

The National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers are so called because they are located in Alberta, Canada … oil country.

Edmonton is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. The city was founded as Fort Edmonton in 1795, with the name taken from the area in London called Edmonton. Edmonton, London was the home of pioneer John Peter Pruden who suggested the name. London’s Edmonton was also home for deputy governor Sir James Winter Lake of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

53 *Bands may leave the stage on either side of them : ENCORES

“Encore” is French for “again, one more time”, and is a shout that an audience member will make here in North America to request perhaps another song. But, the term is not used this way in France. Rather, the audience will shout “Bis!”, which is the Italian for “twice!”

54 One of the Baldwins : ALEC

The four acting Baldwin brothers are:

  • Alec Baldwin (b. 1958)
  • Daniel Baldwin (b. 1960)
  • William “Billy” Baldwin (b. 1963)
  • Stephen Baldwin (b. 1966)

58 Half a cocktail : TAI

The mai tai cocktail is strongly associated with the Polynesian islands, but the drink was supposedly invented in 1944 in Trader Vic’s restaurant in Oakland, California. One recipe is 6 parts white rum, 3 parts orange curaçao, 3 parts Orgeat syrup, 1 part rock candy syrup, 2 parts fresh lime juice, all mixed with ice and then a float added of 6 parts dark rum. “Maita’i” is the Tahitian word for “good”.

59 Karaoke aid : MIC

“Karate” is a Japanese word meaning “empty hand”, and the related word “karaoke” translates as “empty orchestra”.

64 Two after epsilon : ETA

Eta is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, and is a forerunner of our Latin character “H”. Originally denoting a consonant, eta was used as a long vowel in Ancient Greek.

69 First name in the 2016 campaign : BERNIE

Bernie Sanders has served as a US Senator from Vermont since 2007. Sanders often describes himself as a democratic socialist, and used to appear on the ballot as an independent. Prior to joining the Democratic Party in 2015, Sanders had been the longest-serving independent in the history of the US Congress.

Down

2 Lab sound : ARF!

The Labrador (Lab) breed of dog has been around at least since 1814, and the chocolate Labrador appeared over a century later in the 1930s. The name “Labrador Retriever” is simply a reference to the breed’s origin and behavior. Labs originally “retrieved” from the “Labrador Sea”.

6 Curry, for one : ANN

Television journalist Ann Curry is perhaps best known for the time she spent as co-host on NBC’s “Today” show. NBC executives asked Curry to resign from the “Today” show because ratings were low. I just read online that Curry was also pushed out because of the way she insisted on dressing and because she refused to dye her gray hair. I hope that isn’t true …

8 Capital of Ionia? : IOTA

The Greek letter iota is the capital (uppercase) letter in the word “Ionia”.

Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, and one that gave rise to our letters I and J. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small, as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.

The geographic region called Ionia is located in present-day Turkey. Ionia was prominent in the days of ancient Greece, although it wasn’t a unified state and rather a collection of tribes. The tribal confederacy was more based on religious and cultural similarities than a political or military alliance. Nowadays we often refer to this arrangement as the Ionian League.

9 Michigan State athlete : SPARTAN

Michigan State University’s sports teams used to be called the Aggies, as the school was founded as the State Agricultural College of Michigan. The team name was changed to the Spartans in 1925, reflecting the school’s shift in focus beyond agriculture-centered education. The school mascot Sparty hit the scene in 1989.

10 One can’t start with 666: Abbr. : SSN

A Social Security number (SSN) is divided into three parts, i.e AAA-GG-SSSS. Originally, the Area Number (AAA) was the code for the office that issued the card. Since 1973, the Area Number reflects the ZIP code from which the application was made. The GG in the SSN is the Group Number, and the SSSS in the number is the Serial Number. However, this is all moot. Since 2011, SSNs have been assigned randomly. However, some random numbers have been excluded from use, i.e. Area Numbers 000, 666 (!) and 900-999.

666 is the number of the beast that is linked to Satan or the Antichrist, according to the Book of Revelation in the Bible. The fear of the number 666 has been given a name, i.e. hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. Don’t forget that …

11 House speaker after Ryan : PELOSI

Nancy Pelosi first became Speaker of the House in 2007, and was the 60th person to hold that position. Ms. Pelosi represents a district not far from here, which covers most of San Francisco. She was the first Californian, the first Italian-American and the first woman to be Speaker of the House. As Speaker of the House is second-in-line to the presidency, after the Vice President, Nancy Pelosi was for many years the highest-ranking female politician in US history. That was until Kamala Harris became Vice President in 2021.

Paul Ryan was a nominee for Vice President in the 2012 election, and was on the Republican ticket with Mitt Romney. Ryan was elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2015 after John Boehner resigned. At 45, Ryan then became the youngest Speaker since 1875.

12 He had all the answers : TREBEK

Alex Trebek was the host of “Jeopardy!” from the launch of the syndicated version of the game show in 1984 until his passing in 2020. Trebek missed just one episode during that time, when he and host of “Wheel of Fortune” Pat Sajak swapped roles in 1997 as an April Fool’s joke. In 2014, Trebek picked up the Guinness World Record for hosting the most episodes of a game show.

13 St. Clare’s town : ASSISI

The Italian town of Assisi is in Umbria. Assisi is famous as the birthplace of St. Francis and as the home to the Franciscan religious order. It was also the home to Saint Clare and her order of the Poor Sisters (later known as the Poor Clares).

Clare of Assisi was one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. Clare was the founder of the Order of Poor Ladies. The order still exists today and is now known as the Poor Clares in her honor.

24 Biblical twin : ESAU

Esau was the grandson of Abraham and the twin brother of Jacob, the founder of the Israelites. When Esau was born to Isaac and Rebekah, the event was described with “Now the first came forth, red all over like a hairy garment”. Esau is portrayed later in life as being very different from his brother Jacob, as a hunter and someone who loves the outdoor life.

25 Hoopla : ADO

The word “hoopla” means “boisterous excitement”. The term probably comes from “houp-là”, something the French say instead of “upsy-daisy”. Then again, “upsy-daisy” probably isn’t something said very often here in the US …

29 Pluck, as a harp : THRUM

To thrum is to strum a stringed instrument in an idle and monotonous way. The term “thrum” has been around a long time, since the 1590s.

33 Drama-free state in many a daytime drama : COMA

Our term “coma” comes from the Greek “koma” meaning “deep sleep”.

35 “Poison” plant : SUMAC

Sumacs are a group of flowering shrubs and small trees that include poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac (nasty stuff!). The leaves of some species of sumac contain tannins that are used for tanning leather. Morocco leather is an example of the use of sumac tannins.

38 “__ Gothic” : AMERICAN

The iconic Grant Wood work called “American Gothic” was painted in 1930. It depicts a farmer holding a pitchfork standing beside his spinster daughter. Grant used his sister as a model for the daughter, and his dentist as a model for the farmer. You can see “American Gothic” on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. You can also visit the house depicted in the painting, in the city of Eldon, Iowa. Perhaps predictably, the house is located on what is now called American Gothic Street.

40 Cornhole attempt : TOSS

Cornhole is a game in which contestants throw bean bags towards a tilted-up platform with a hole in it. Bags that land in the hole score 3 points, and bags that land on the board score 1 point.

42 Saints’ gp. : NFL

The New Orleans Saints football team takes its name from the jazz song “When the Saints Go Marching In”, a tune that is very much associated with the city. The team was founded in 1967, on November 1st, which is All Saints’ Day in the Roman Catholic tradition.

44 Geologic time : EON

Geological time is divided into a number of units of varying lengths. These are, starting from the largest:

  • supereon
  • eon (also “aeon”)
  • era
  • period
  • epoch
  • age

45 Work with a steno : DICTATE

Stenography is the process of writing in shorthand. The term comes from the Greek “steno” (narrow) and “graphe” (writing).

48 Title role for Sue Lyon and Dominique Swain : LOLITA

Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita” is a 1962 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov. English actor James Mason stars as a middle-aged man obsessed with a teenage girl, played by 14-year-old Sue Lyon. The cast also included Shelley Winters and Peter Sellers.

“Lolita” is a 1997 film adaptation of the 1955 novel of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov. Dominique Swain plays the title character, and Jeremy Irons plays the obsessed professor Humbert Humbert. Melanie Griffith has the supporting role of mother to “Lolita”.

49 Arctic covering : ICE CAP

The polar ice cap at the north of our planet is floating pack ice in the Arctic Ocean. The southern polar ice cap is an ice sheet that covers the landmass known as Antarctica. About 70% of all the freshwater on Earth is held in the southern polar ice cap.

53 Reggae’s __-A-Mouse : EEK

Eek-A-Mouse is a Jamaican reggae artist born Ripton Hylton. Hylton took the name “Eek-A-Mouse” from a racehorse, one on which he frequently placed bets.

56 Refined chap : GENT

“Chap” is an informal term meaning “lad, fellow” that is used especially in England. The term derives from “chapman”, an obsolete word meaning “purchaser” or “trader”.

60 Support wear : BRA

The word “brassière” is French in origin, but it isn’t the word that the French use for a “bra”. In France, what we call a bra is known as a “soutien-gorge”, translating to “held under the neck”. The word “brassière” is indeed used in France but there it describes a baby’s undershirt, a lifebelt or a harness. “Brassière” comes from the Old French word for an “arm protector” in a military uniform (“bras” is the French for “arm”). Later “brassière” came to mean “breastplate” and from there the word was used for a type of woman’s corset. The word jumped into English around 1900.

62 Old U.K. record label : EMI

EMI was a British music company, with the initialism standing for Electric and Musical Industries.

63 Eau Claire-to-Peoria dir. : SSE

Eau Claire, Wisconsin is named for the Eau Claire River, which in turn was named by French explorers. The explorers had been travelling down the muddy Chippewa River and diverted into the clear water of what is now called the Eau Claire River. They exclaimed “Voici l’eau claire!” meaning “Here is clear water!” The French phrase “Voici l’eau claire” is now the city’s motto that appears on the city seal.

Peoria is the oldest European settlement in the state of Illinois, having been settled by the French in 1680. The city is famous for being cited as “the average American city”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Name from the Arabic for “desert” : SAHARA
7 Siamese warning : HISS
11 Child support org. : PTA
14 Stir : PRISON
15 “My bad” : OOPS
16 Um cousins : ERS
17 *Country in much 2021 news : AFGHANISTAN
19 Argonne article : LES
20 Stashed : HID
21 King who banished Cordelia : LEAR
22 *World’s fifth-largest desert : GOBI
23 *Key to more issues : RENEWAL
26 Back-combs : TEASES
28 Log-in credential : USER ID
29 *Greek yogurt sauce : TZATZIKI
31 It’s a liquid, paradoxically : GAS
32 “Dream on” : NO CHANCE
34 Work (out) : SUSS
36 Part of NATO: Abbr. : ORG
37 Board sticker : DART
41 Not laughing : UNAMUSED
46 Subject for Warhol : MAO
47 *Swindle : FLIMFLAM
50 Edmonton NHL team : OILERS
52 They don’t skip stops : LOCALS
53 *Bands may leave the stage on either side of them : ENCORES
54 One of the Baldwins : ALEC
55 Look at rudely : OGLE
58 Half a cocktail : TAI
59 Karaoke aid : MIC
60 Acrobatic street moves … or a hint to parts of the answers to starred clues : BREAKDANCES
64 Two after epsilon : ETA
65 It might be pulled by a superior : RANK
66 Crack squads : A-TEAMS
67 Sticky stuff : SAP
68 Post counterpart : ANTE
69 First name in the 2016 campaign : BERNIE

Down

1 Pedi place : SPA
2 Lab sound : ARF!
3 Royal __ : HIGHNESS
4 More pallid : ASHIER
5 Visitors’ victory : ROAD WIN
6 Curry, for one : ANN
7 Coiled gardening item : HOSE
8 Capital of Ionia? : IOTA
9 Michigan State athlete : SPARTAN
10 One can’t start with 666: Abbr. : SSN
11 House speaker after Ryan : PELOSI
12 He had all the answers : TREBEK
13 St. Clare’s town : ASSISI
18 Out of work, maybe : ILL
22 Looked intently : GAZED
23 Floor plans? : RUGS
24 Biblical twin : ESAU
25 Hoopla : ADO
27 “Yada, yada, yada” letters : ETC
29 Pluck, as a harp : THRUM
30 Turns suddenly : ZAGS
33 Drama-free state in many a daytime drama : COMA
35 “Poison” plant : SUMAC
38 “__ Gothic” : AMERICAN
39 Red inside : RARE
40 Cornhole attempt : TOSS
42 Saints’ gp. : NFL
43 Loser : ALSO-RAN
44 Geologic time : EON
45 Work with a steno : DICTATE
47 Sweethearts : FLAMES
48 Title role for Sue Lyon and Dominique Swain : LOLITA
49 Arctic covering : ICE CAP
51 Temporary wheels : LOANER
53 Reggae’s __-A-Mouse : EEK
56 Refined chap : GENT
57 Many a camp is on one : LAKE
60 Support wear : BRA
61 Blot : DAB
62 Old U.K. record label : EMI
63 Eau Claire-to-Peoria dir. : SSE

11 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 25 Nov 21, Thursday”

  1. Messed up TZATZIKI.. had TWATZIKI because I had WAGS for 30D…???

    Never got the theme..

    Tough? Clues of the day… STIR and PRISON. CAPITAL of IONIA and IOTA..

    Blessings on your Thanksgiving day!

  2. 12:27

    A good challenge for a holiday. It took me a while to take a step down and see the dances.

    Fall harvest is a fitting time to give thanks. I give thanks that the state of Massachusetts is finally addressing the 400 year collision of history and myth. It’s going to interesting to see what happens to the state seal.

  3. 11 minutes, 26 seconds, no errors.

    Not very thankful for this one. This was incredibly poorly edited; some of the clues were real stretches. I don’t enjoy puzzles where I think I’m being tricked the whole time.

  4. Had to Google for TZATZIKI. Didn’t get theme. Had stRUM before THRUM.
    Lots of clever things. And things I didn’t know: that stuff about SSNs (thanx Bill), LOLITA actors, EEK-a-mouse.
    Going to the Otesaga at Cooperstown soon, and glad it’s nice out. A bit afraid of night driving at my age, but I’m the only teetotaler.

  5. A happy day of giving thanks, everyone.
    10:50 with no errors or lookups. Saw the theme answers after filling in everything. No difficulty with any of the clues.

    Regarding “I don’t enjoy puzzles where I think I’m being tricked the whole time,” it seems to me that part of the challenge of crossword puzzles is to figure out a clue’s meaning. A lot of it is factoids, but sometimes there are multiple meanings or aspects. For instance, “Um cousins” could be UHS, EHS, or ERS; “It’s a liquid, paradoxically” tells you there could be a play on words, and so it is, as gasoline is a liquid but we refer to it as GAS; “Sticky stuff” could be TAR, GOO, or SAP; “Saints’ gp.” could be NFC or NFL. It’s just a matter if working iut which one applies.

  6. A little too tricky for me today; took 18:50 with 2 errors and one peek. After I finished I didn’t get the banner and did a bit of checking. I changed MAe/TeSS to the more likely O and then started to look at ThEBEn. After a few minutes I finally did a “grid-check” and confirmed “h” and “n” were wrong…tried “R” for “h”, but no idea on the “n”. I finally did an alphabet roll to discover “K” was desired and then I recognized Trebek, who I’ve never watched, but heard of.

    Good challenging puzzle, although the theme was a complete mystery to me, especially when it’s broken up like this…so it didn’t help at all.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

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